Watercolour painter Paul Sandby is best known for his pictures of Windsor in George III’s reign.
The exhibition at the Royal Academy marking the 200th anniversary of his death in 1809 brings together his other Thames views.
He certainly knew the river well because his earliest drawing is of the Tower of London and he spent time teaching at Woolwich Arsenal.
In his 1765 The North Terrace, Windsor Castle the winding river can be seen below passing Clewer Church. In another picture he then shows us the view back from “the Goswells” on the south bank opposite The Brocas.
But Sandby did go further west upstream. The View of Oxford from Nuneham Courtney – Evening c 1760 shows Lord Harcourt’s ‘improved’ estate. The work was by ‘Capability’ Brown who was known to Sandby. Another is the morning view from the lock cottages showing two boats and the mansion on the hill. Today the lock has gone but university-owned house still makes a fine sight today. Sandby was very familiar with it for he taught drawing to Lady Elizabeth Harcourt.
One picture looks just like the mathematical bridge at Walton-on-Thames as painted by Canaletto but alas it is not. Virginia Water, again at Windsor, had a fine bridge too.
However, the star picture in his own version of Canaletto’s view east from Somerset House. The precise observation allows us to see the south bank as well as the north as it was in Georgian times.
This is an exhibition not to be missed.
Paul Sandby is at the Royal Academy of Arts from Saturday 13 March to Sunday 14 June; admission £9 (conc £8).
See page 90-92 and 164.